Shack Ten: Best Resident Evil Games

We battled it out to write our definitive staff list of the best Resident Evil games.

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We're ringing in a new Resident Evil this week, and by all accounts it's a good'un! To mark the occasion, this week we're going to battle it out and figure out our definitive staff list of the best Resident Evil games. We may lose eyes and friendships, but when it's all over we will have decided the best of the best.

10. Resident Evil Zero

Originally concieved as a Nintendo 64 title, Resident Evil Zero is a prequel to the original title starring everyone's favorite medic, Rebecca Chambers. I'm not a huge fan of Resident Evil Zero, as I see it as being completely unecessary and convoluted. As prequels so frequently do, RE Zero causes a lot of issues with both characters and the timeline of the original game, and just ends up falling flat in comparison to REmake, RE2, and RE3.

RE0 shows just how Rebecca got to the Spencer Mansion and the fate of S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team. I sorta wish it would have been through the eyes of Enrico Martinez instead of Rebecca, because the magnum toting warrior we see he as in Resident Evil Zero is not what we see in Resident Evil where she doesn't even have a weapon.

The new partner system was innovative for the series, but I found myself missing the item boxes as opposed to having to drop items on the ground. However, as a classic Resident Evil title it still works, just not as well as it could have. -Jason Faulkner

9. Resident Evil: Revelations

Resident Evil: Revelations was one of the first games I played on the Nintendo 3DS, though I was never able to pick up a Circle Pad Pro to fully enjoy it. That didn't keep me from tearing into it, nor the HD version that subsequently released for Xbox 360, Wii U, PS3, and PC. It was a striking return to classic Resident Evil form in terms of gameplay and characters, following Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield scouting the luxury liner Queen Zenobia and a smattering of other locales. It was excellent as a handheld title and only made better when it hit consoles. -Brittany Vincent

8. Resident Evil 5

As an RE game, RE5 suffered from an identity crisis. Guns, ammo, and healing items abound. Cutscenes are so bombastic as to make Michael Bay roll his eyes. Chris Redfield punches a boulder to move it along a path in the core of a volcano.

All that evidence and more points to RE5 positioning itself as a pure action game, yet the tank-style controls persist. Ignore "Resident Evil" in the title, work past the incongruity between the controls and content, and what remains is a fantastic co-op experience with multiple difficulties and droves of unlockables to keep you and a friend busy for months. (If you haven't played it yet, make sure to buy the Gold Edition so you can experience the excellent Lost in Nightmares DLC, which packed more survival horror into 60 minutes than RE5's 10-hour campaign.)

Just don't expect to be scared by anything other than Chris Redfield's steroid-enhanced arms. -David Craddock

7. Resident Evil: Outbreak 1 and 2 (Tie)

These two titles took the Resident Evil series in a new direction, and one it's never gone since. The two Outbreak games blended classic Resident Evil gameplay with online co-op to make a very special combination I think worked very well. Unfortunately, these two games were released around the time of the genesis of online console play, and not only were there many people still in the U.S. that didn't have access to broadband, but many PlayStation 2 owners didn't have the Network Adapter needed to connect and play online.

The Resident Evil Outbreak games are told over a series of loosely-connected scenarios instead of an overarching story. They feature an entirely different cast of characters, each with their own special abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Although Resident Evil Outbreak was originally planned as a single title, cutbacks during development led to a massive cutback on proposed scenarios, and instead of the over 18 that were originally planned only 10 were released over the span of the two Outbreak games.

I loved the Outbreak games because they put a unique spin on the classic Resident Evil formula that showed a possible new direction for the series. Though Capcom eventually decided to go with more action-oriented gameplay as evident by Resident Evil 4, 5, and 6, perhaps they'll return to the online concept of survival horror that we saw in Resident Evil Outbreak. -Jason Faulkner

6. Resident Evil CODE: Veronica (X)

Everyone's played Code: Veronica, or at the very least Code: Veronica X, the later updated version of the original game. Claire and Chris Redfield served as memorable protagonists and Steve Burnside was a welcome addition as well, but what really set this game apart was its intelligent usage of familiar survival elements and some rather excellent body horror. It was a solid addition to the already-established series, and is still considered by many Resident Evil fans to be one of the best there are, hence its inclusion on this list. -Brittany Vincent

5. Resident Evil 3

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was the ultimate form of original Resident Evil gameplay on the PlayStation. It was set both before and after Resident Evil 2 and brought the stark urban panic of Raccoon City under siege of the dead to life. RE3 brought the classic Resident Evil gameplay style to its pinnacle. It featured new movements like dodging and quick turning and introduced environmental elements you could use to hard your enemies.

Nemesis himself is now an iconic monster, and I don't think Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is given enough credit for the sense of completeness we got to the plot of the Resident Evil original tetrad of RE0, RE, RE2, and RE3. While many questions are left unanswered in later entries, Jill's Adventure through Raccoon City ties up loose ends great and adds even more clarity to the wicked deeds of Umbrella. -Jason Faulkner

4. Resident Evil (1996)

The game that started it all, Resident Evil was a schlock-inspired adventure game that spawned an entire genre. Tight camera angles and slow-moving zombies gave a sense of dread more often than jump-scares, and keeping supplies scarce was tuned just-so to keep players on their toes. While its place in video game history was secured with its meme-ready dialogue, we shouldn't discount the accomplishment of setting the stage for the modern horror genre as a whole.

Other games have done it better, including some on this list, but you never forget your first zombie-dog jumping through the window right at your face. -Steve Watts

3. Resident Evil 2

Released to resounding fanfare and commercial success in 1998, Resident Evil 2 was an evolutionary step for the series and the videogame medium. The graphics were tighter, the monsters scarier, the RCPD labyrinthine, the delightfully puzzles absurd. It was more Resident Evil, but more refined—exactly what fans wanted.

RE2's trimmings were as impressive as the game itself—two discs packed with two playable characters whose campaigns changed depending on whether you played Claire or Leon first. Choices made in your first campaign affected the other character, such as taking or leaving certain supplies.

A PS1-era game it may be, but the story, puzzles, monsters, and choices have kept fans coming back to RE2 for 19 years and counting. -David Craddock

2. Resident Evil 4

Credited as the first Resident Evil to modernize the formula even as its tank controls began to get long in the tooth, RE4 is still widely regarded as one of the best of the series. Why? Because despite it becoming a more traditional third-person shooter, it never severed its roots. The setting was still moody and unsettling, with a usually quiet atmosphere that would be suddenly punctuated with moments of conflict. Zombies were still lumbering, but could dash at a moment's notice. Everything still felt deliberate and tense, even as the player was given a more intuitive control scheme.

Later games would add more polish to the third-person shooting and veer further into action, but Resident Evil 4 was the one that struck a perfect balance between its origins and the changing demands of the industry. -Steve Watts

1. Resident Evil "REmake" (2002)

Civilization creator Sid Meier describes games as a series of interesting choices. Piggybacking on that, I describe survival horror games as a series of interesting choices with life-or-death consequences. Within the Resident Evil series, and arguably within the genre as a whole, no game evokes the ethos of survival horror more proficiently or terrifyingly than Capcom's 2002 "REmake" of the 1996 original.

Shinji Mikami bulldozed the Spencer Estate and rebuilt it with photorealistic graphics that ooze dread, from lightning flashes that light up rooms cloaked in shadow to zombies leaning against windows, the moonlight painting their silhouette on adjacent walls. Moving through REmake's eerie grounds takes courage, and the addition of foes like the Crimson Head and Lisa will leave your hands sweaty and your thumbs paralyzed with fear over your controller's analog sticks.

Most importantly, REmake abounds with choices. Should you put down a zombie or two in the West Hall corridor, or thread your way through them? And if one grabs you? Do you use your last defensive items to escape without a scratch? And if you kill the zombie, can you expend the last few drops of kerosene in your flask to set the freshly killed corpse aflame, preventing it from rising again later as a Crimson?

Capcom announced its long-hoped-for remake of Resident Evil 2 back in 2015. While its original was incredible, the bar was set in 2002, and has yet to be dethroned. -David Craddock

From The Chatty

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    January 27, 2017 2:30 PM

    Shack Staff posted a new article, Shack Ten: Resident Evil Series

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      January 27, 2017 2:37 PM

      Man, why does Zero always get shit on? It seems like a lot of people only played the first hour or so and then threw their hands up in the air and declared that it sucked. It's actually one of the better in the series, in my opinion.

      My list goes RE1 remake, RE4, RE2, RE1, Code Veronica, RE Zero, RE3, the rest of the garbage.

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        January 27, 2017 2:44 PM

        RE Zero's problem is that it's the Zelda: Twilight Princess of the series. Not great, not bad, just sort of... there. It is utterly banal. The bosses are giant critters, which is creepy more than scary. Zombies are scary because they were once human. They were people we knew, loved, worked with. In RE0 we fight rabid monkeys and giant bats.

        The antagonist was ripped straight out of an anime, and not a good one.

        Leaving items on the floor was a huge inconvenience. People complained that the item boxes being universally linked was unrealistic, but this is a video game series about zombies and lab monsters taking over the world. Item boxes weren't realistic, but they were convenient. They facilitated inventory management so that you could concentrate on solving puzzles, managing resources, and being too scared to leave the safe rooms.

        Rebecca was dull. Even Shinji Mikami, creator of the RE series, hates her. In this case, her dullness isn't her fault. The very nature of a prequel means you know what happens next. It's hard to fear for a character when you know she walks away at the end. Billy was interesting, but 50 out of 100 is still a failing grade.

        The mansion--sorry, "training facility"--was just a rehash of the mansion. It didn't do anything new; it was a rehash.

        All that said, I didn't hate RE Zero, but I can barely remember what happened even though I played through it twice: once in 2002 when it released on GameCube, and around this time last year when Capcom put out the remaster. I have no desire to ever play it again. If I'd bought it on disc, I wouldn't bother taking it back to GameStop for a refund because it's not worth the hassle.

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          January 27, 2017 2:51 PM

          RE0 just made you want that REmake 2 even more.

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          January 27, 2017 2:56 PM

          I just remember it being fucking gorgeous, in the same way that re:remake was gorgeous. I might just be a sucker for artwork.

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      January 27, 2017 3:03 PM

      Good list

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      January 27, 2017 3:05 PM

      poor 6, didn't make the cut. how about ranking the movies next, since the final movie is out today?

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        January 27, 2017 3:06 PM

        that's a cruel request

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        January 27, 2017 3:42 PM

        RE6 was so terrible it forced Capcom to dump RE4's design. I'd be very surprised to see it named as a serious contender in any discussion of the top 3-5 games.

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          January 27, 2017 3:48 PM

          No one is sad about that.

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          January 27, 2017 3:49 PM

          There's a speedrunner over at SDA (carcinogen) who runs the resident evil games often. He did a marathon one time and he got to 6 and just ragequit half way through :)

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            January 27, 2017 3:58 PM

            Carcinogen is great. I've watched so many of his playthroughs.

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            January 27, 2017 4:16 PM

            It just had a really stupid and disjointed story. Too much action and globetrotting. It wasn't rage inducing though. Leon's was okay and I kinda liked Ada's. The rest, especially Chris' was terrible.

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              January 27, 2017 4:23 PM

              iirc (I haven't played 6) it was a snowmobile section where he had to time a jump or something and he kept missing it.

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                January 27, 2017 4:25 PM

                That's the Sherry plot. I never had a problem with that, the story was just a throwaway.

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              January 27, 2017 4:24 PM

              You've only scratched the surface on the glacier of RE6's problems.

              A glut of QTEs. Poor controls. Poor feedback when firing weapons. Poor feedback on enemy reactions. Janky animation system. Drab visuals. Bugs and glitches galore. Everything you mentioned.

              It was a piece of shit. Capcom said so, reviewers said so, fans said so. I love this series. It's up there with Zelda, Mario, SoulsBorne, and Diablo for me. But I couldn't finish RE6 and I will likely never touch it again.

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                January 27, 2017 4:32 PM

                Felt like RE4 and RE5 to me. I didn't like RE5 because of the teammate AI bullshit. It was moderately improved in RE6. RE6's biggest failure was being less of a RE game than others. Just having "zombie-like" enemies doesn't make it an RE game.

                Honestly, the more I think about the entire series, I kinda think RE4's success is what ruined it. It was a good game, but it fully changed the series for the worst. It was the game that added in tons of QTE segments, cut back on puzzles and exploration, and made it more action-oriented than horror. RE5 just added coop and RE6 just double downed on all of it.

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      January 27, 2017 3:47 PM

      Wait, Resident Evil 7 isn't the first game in the series?! Nice spoilers in the headline, Shack!

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      January 27, 2017 4:13 PM

      Revelations 2 is far better than Revelations. Hell, over Christmas I played thru RE4, RE5, Revelations, Revelations 2, and RE6 and I gotta say Rev2 was up there with RE4 as the best of the lot. It didn't even make this list though which is maddening.

      :(

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        January 27, 2017 4:16 PM

        Sorry, man. Look on the bright side: we didn't include RE6.

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          January 27, 2017 4:19 PM

          It just means you guys didn't play Rev2. Rev doesn't deserve the be on the list at all.

          And I never understood the hate for RE0.

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        January 27, 2017 4:18 PM

        I think a lot of people slept on revs 2 due to revs 1 being kinda meh (and a 3ds exclusive for a long time). It's a shame because it's a really good game and has a great ending. Also awesome to see Claire and Barry kicking ass again.

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      January 28, 2017 2:33 AM

      5 before Revelations is just ridiculously wrong.

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      January 28, 2017 5:02 AM

      Code: Veronica shoulda been higher.

      And RE4 totally severed it's roots to become an action game.

    • rms
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      January 28, 2017 3:55 PM

      Where the heck is ORC ??